Lower West is one of eight climbing areas in Bolton and one of the most popular in the Burlington area. The small cliff, owned and maintained since 2003 by the local climbing nonprofit Crag VT, offers 28 climbs ranging from 5.6 to 5.12 with a great variety of options. Choose from pulling roofs, jamming cracks or dancing up face climbs. The cliff is made of schist and entertains climbers with routes from 30 feet short to as high as 110 feet tall. All the climbs are trad, but many have bolted anchors making top roping this crag’s main game. Lower West’s easy access from town, and its short, flat approach make it appealing to climbers looking to hop on some rock for an hour or two before or after work, but it’s easy to spend the day here as well. While it can get crowded on the weekends there is usually something to get on and if you go midweek you’ll often get the cliff to yourself.
What Makes It Great
The variety of climbs at this small crag is pretty amazing. The short approach throws you out at the base of the A Wall where you are faced with two great crack climbs, A Major and A Minor. Turn left for five shorter routes, including the challenging crack climb, Crack of All Trades. Head to the right of the A Wall to the Sticks and Stones Wall and find a 3-foot roof to pull on Tea in the Sahara as well as a crimpy face climb up to a crack on the wall’s namesake, Sticks and Stones. There are nine 5.10s and 15 routes with lower grades making this a moderate and extremely fun climbing area.
Be sure to check out Harvest Moon, one of Bolton’s most popular climbs. It’s the last route all the way to the right of the crag and offers a nice face climb with some flake moves. If you can’t get on Harvest Moon, because yes, it’s usually already taken, then try out Hush Mamma Thrush, another 5.8 on the Sticks and Stones Wall. With a ramp in the middle and crimpy face climbing at the top, this is one of the most fun climbs at Lower West.
If you aren’t into trad, there is no need to worry. Lower West is a top roper’s heaven. The majority of climbs have bolted anchors and the walkaround is fast and easy. Just follow the well-worn paths on either side of the cliff up to the top.
Finally, the bottom of the cliff is wide and flat and surrounded by trees making it a great spot to bring children and/or your furry, four-legged friend. It also makes it easy to hang out with your crew and grab a snack.
Who is Going to Love It
Climbers of all abilities will love this area because of the easy approach, the variety of climbs and the opportunity for top roping or trad leading.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Park for free in the pull-out about a half mile up Bolton Notch Road on the right. You can also park on the right-hand side of the street here. Check out Tough Schist: Rock Climbing in Northern Vermont for more info on individual climbs.